RTTNews - The South Korean stock market has extended its winning streak to eight sessions, collecting more than 120 points or 8.5 percent en route to a fresh 10-month closing high. The KOSPI is closing on resistance at 1,500 points, and now investors are looking for the market to crash through that barrier at the opening of trade on Friday - although GDP numbers for Q2 could affect trade.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is firmly optimistic, with modest gains predicted for the housing and property sectors. Continued good news on the corporate earnings front is expected to add to the positive sentiment, along with solid economic data out of the United States. The European and U.S. markets finished with significant gains, and the Asian markets are also predicted to open higher.

The KOSPI finished slightly higher on Thursday, as gains among the financial stocks were largely offset by weakness among the technology stocks and the automobile producers.

For the day, the index was up 2.45 points or 0.16 percent to close at 1,496.49 after trading between 1,484.83 and 1,504.70. Volume was 634 million shares worth 6.5 trillion won. There were 434 gainers and 359 decliners.

Among the gainers, Industrial Bank of Korea surged 8 percent, while Korea Exchange Bank added 2.36 percent, Woori Finance Holdings gained 3.63 percent, Korea Electric Power Corporation jumped 3.86 percent and SK Telecom was up 2.49 percent.

Bucking the trend, Hyundai Motor fell 2.97 percent, Kia Motors shed 4.18 percent and LG Electronics slid 3.42 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is broadly positive as stocks staged a substantial rally following an encouraging report on existing home sales after a modest upward move at the opening bell on Thursday. The major averages all closed in positive territory by substantial margins, with the NASDAQ able to extend its winning streak for the twelfth straight session.

Earlier, buying interest was generated by data from the National Association of Realtors that showed that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June. Existing home sales rose by 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.84 million unit rate from the 4.77 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

Although a separate report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose in June, the figure rose by slightly less than economists had expected. First-time claims in the week ended July 18th rose to 554,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to increase to 557,000 from the 522,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Traders also delved into a series of earnings reports, with 3M (MMM), Ford (F) and Wyeth (WYE) reporting results that surpassed Wall Street estimates. McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T), Qualcomm (QCOM) also beat forecasts, although by more modest margins.

The major averages gave back some ground going into the close, although they held onto standout gains. The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1 percent at 9,069.29, the NASDAQ advanced by 47.22 points or 2.5 percent to 1.973.60 and the S&P 500 rose by 22.22 points or 2.3 percent to 976.29.

In economic news, South Korea will on Friday release Q2 gross domestic product figures, with analysts predicting a 2.2 percent expansion on quarter, following a 0.1 percent quarterly increase.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com